Murray Passes Tiafoe Test, Books Zverev Clash

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In his first match of the year, Andy Murray made a winning return to the ATP Tour with a hard-fought 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-1 victory against Frances Tiafoe at the Western & Southern Open on Saturday.

Making his first appearance at an ATP Tour event since capturing his 46th tour-level trophy at the European Open in Antwerp last October, the former World No. 1 saved a set point in the first set tie-break and charged through the deciding set to book his place in the second round after two hours and 28 minutes.

“I thought I moved well today. That was probably the thing I was most happy with and probably the thing I was most apprehensive about going into the match,” said Murray. “I thought I moved pretty well. My tennis could have been better. I did some things well at the end, but I could definitely improve in terms of my game.”

Murray will face World No. 7 Alexander Zverev for a place in the third round. The two-time champion (2008, ’11) owns a 1-0 ATP Head2Head record against the German, following a first-round victory against Zverev at the 2016 Australian Open.

“[Zverev has] obviously been up at the top of the game for a number of years now,” said Murray. “It will be a good test for me, for sure… He moves well for a big guy, solid off the ground. [He] has struggled at times with his serve. When he’s serving well, he’s obviously one of the top players in the world.”

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In an opening set dominated by serve, a double fault from Murray allowed Tiafoe to move into a 5/2 lead in the tie-break. After battling back into contention, Murray was forced to save a set point behind his second serve at 5/6 as Tiafoe failed to find the court with his return. Two points later, Murray fired a forehand passing shot up the line to clinch the set.

Like the first set, Tiafoe managed to create a single break-point chance in the second set. This time, he took his opportunity. After trading cross-court forehands with Murray at 4-3, Tiafoe attacked his opponent’s backhand and moved forward to break serve with a low backhand drop volley.

Tiafoe, who finished the contest with a 17/22 success rate at the net, was unable to carry any momentum into the decider as Murray raced to a 3-0 lead. The 33-year-old played with depth and capitalised on a series of errors from his opponent to gain a crucial advantage. Murray claimed a second service break at 4-1 with a backhand return winner and served out the match to love to earn his 32nd victory at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

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